DOREEN NAWA, Lusaka
NOT LONG ago, giving birth from homes in rural areas was a normal thing. Most expectant mothers did so because of convenience and lack of resources to access the nearest health facility.
But this practice had its own disadvantages. A number of babies born with other health complications and conditions did not survive. This led to an increase in infant mortality rate.
Now the story is different. The expectant mothers give birth from health facilities and their partners are happy with that.
In the past, women’s lack of decision-making regarding child birth, dependence on their husbands for the final decision, and various socioeconomic barriers, prevented them from delivering at a clinic.
In addition, socio-cultural norms regarding childbirth, negative attitude towards the quality of services provided at the clinic, made most women deliver at home.
Most women in rural areas had a positive attitude towards Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and considered them to be respectful, skilled, friendly, trustworthy, and readily available when needed.
Ketty Mungala, a trained TBA and a member of the Safe Motherhood Action Group (SMAG) at Katapazi Rural Health centre in Kazungula district, says the coming of a policy for all expectant mothers to deliver from a health facility has come as a relief to rural areas.
Mrs Mungala, who has been a TBA for over 10 years, says after being trained and joining the SMAG, her knowledge on maternal health has increased.
“I was trained as a TBA five years ago, but before then, I was just a TBA without any knowledge, just the experience. The risks that I got myself into as an untrained TBA are numerous to itemise. I thank God I did the job by God’s grace,” she says.
Mrs Mungala says with the coming of the SMAGs, she now advises women, men and expectant mothers in rural areas to give birth from clinics.
“It is now a common feature, expectant mothers move to the nearest health facilities in their eighth month. These are places they call home until they deliver as they prepare to give birth in a designated place and not their homes,” she says.
Mrs Mungala is not the only one, Mr Costa Musena, a member of the SMAG at Katapazi Rural Health Centre, says with the coming of SMAG, women are now empowered to make decisions and advise their partners regarding childbirth.
Mr Musena says the coming of SMAGs has improved linkages between health facilities and expectant mothers.
“Informing communities about the existence of the shelter and its benefits for mothers-to-be used to be one of the main challenges local health workers faced. That is no longer the case,” Mr Musena says.
Mr Musena says the SMAGs have played a critical role in bringing the transformation and CLICK TO READ MORE